mocoNews - T-Mobile Germany "Reconsidering" VoIP Strategy; Skype Stripped From N97
Thursday, May 14, 2009; 12:00 PM
When the iPhone application for voice over IP provider Skype was released in late March, T-Mobile Germany vowed to block the app, both physically and contractually. But it looks like the carrier is rethinking its entire approach to VoIP, according to the FT Deutschland, which reported that both Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) Germany and T-Mobile Germany were considering offering special VoIP plans. A T-Mobile Germany spokesperson confirmed with us that the carrier is indeed "looking at different ways of dealing with VoIP," but said it was "too early" to say if that would include VoIP-specific monthly plans. He also said that despite earlier threats, T-Mobile Germany was not blocking Skype or any other web clients.
Still, its clear that the carrier is unsure how to tackle VoiP. T-Mobile Germany plans to launch Nokia's flagship smartphone the N97 sometime this summer, but while Nokia (NYSE: NOK) has a deal with Skype to preload its client on to the new devices, the app will not appear on the T-Mobile Germany versions. The carrier's spokesperson said, "The deal is between Nokia and Skype, but it is up to us to decide what is on the [device]." He added that it would be up to subscribers to decide if they wanted the app, and if they did, they would be able to download it to their phones as the N97 is VoiP compatible. He added by not putting Skype on, subscribers could choose from a number of VoIP apps, and not be limited to just one.
Of course, much of the battle with most mobile apps is getting it on the phone. Consumers are much more likely to use a pre-loaded app once its already on there, rather than hunting it out and installing it. Judging from the backlash the carrier got, its efforts to "reconsider" VoIP is more likely a more finely-tuned PR message around consumer choice, than real support for it. It certainly is a better message than their earlier stance on cutting off VoIP users: "Those who violate their contracts can expect to have them cancelled. It's the same with any contract. If you rent a no-pets apartment and expect no one to notice your little dog, you can't be surprised when your landlord comes knocking."